Friday, May 25, 2007

On Christian Celebrities

For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ” (1 Cor. 1:11-12).

My wife and I sometimes talk about how funny it is that every group or clique of Christians has their own "people" that they are into and their own group of books that everyone in that group has read. It's really amusing to hang out with people who are not in your group of friends and hear the different people that they follow and books they have all read. It can be quite awkward when one of them brings up somebody who you are not really familiar with and you reply, "Um...I'm not really familiar with that person." Its kind of funny to see the reactions that come, "What!? You mean you have never read...!?." Clearly, you are out of your element.

On the other hand it is quite sad when we come across those who are "super-spiritual" that say, "I don't read any other books except the Bible." This response is sad because often time the premise that this person is coming from is that no one else can teach them anything. It's sad because they are missing out on great treasures that God has given other men to share with the rest of us. It's sad because there may be a root of pride there that is stunting their spiritual growth.

Every group of Christians has their own Christian celebrities. For me and many people I hang out with they consist of people like: John Piper, R.C Sproul, John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, and some historical figures such as Edwards, Chambers, etc. I really appreciate the ministries of these men and cannot begin to tell you the impact they have had on my life. In fact, I would even say that I have been discipled from a distance by some of them (Piper and Sproul especially), but it is easy to take our eyes off of the Creator and focus them on the creature. I have sometimes found myself trying to become a better disciple of John Piper instead of Christ. I am often amazed at the biblical insight and wisdom that these men have. Thus, I must constantly remind myself (or usually my wife is great at reminding me in a loving way) that these are only men. It is great to glean and learn from their amazing godliness and knowledge and to follow them as they follow Christ, but I fear that sometimes we begin to make them "gods" in our own minds or our little sub-cultures (something I am sure these men would/do weep over).

We must praise God for the gifts that He has given us in these men and take in as much as we can from them. However, we must keep our eyes upon the one who is teaching us through them, Christ. So, we don't need to be like those who deem themselves as spiritually superior because they only read the Bible, but we must not replace the priority of Scripture reading and meditation with the thoughts and teaching of great saints around us or from history. Let us then, strive to strike that ever difficult balance to the glory of God.